Sunday, June 29, 2014

Gorges Waterfall 100k –Cascade Locks, OR - March 30th

A little late but I have to blog about this must do race...  A short read.

One of the many waterfalls along the course.

 Gorges Waterfall is one of the hardest races I have ever run, course wise and how I felt.  I had hopes of running with Jess Mullen, a talented athlete from Seattle, I had met at Massanutten last year. Her resume is impressive to say the least. I think she has completed every notoriously difficult ultra in the book and all with respectable times.  It had been a while since I was able to share a race with someone and I was pretty excited.  My hopes were quickly dashed though when in the darkness we descended our first long hill.  Going down the switchbacks, I saw Jess’s headlamp getting further and further down the hill until it completely disappear. I wasn’t as skilled a runner as Jess. Although I may have the speed to keep up with her, add hills and I didn’t have a prayer.  Many other headlamps passed me and also disappeared down the hill. Man I sucked at downhills!  With 20,000 feet of elevation change, I would be racing the cutoffs the whole day.   For a “back-of-the-front-of-the-pack runner”, I have never had to do this. 
Wasn't breaking any time records so stopped for a photo.

I finished the first 50k of this out and back in 7:15ish!  The cutoff was 16 hours!  My family was waiting for me at the halfway point.  So was Hal Koerner.  Well not really but he was there hanging out. Even my brother recognized him and was all excited as I have made him watch Unbreakable.  My brother as a mountain biker really enjoyed it.   I really wanted to get a pic with Hal but again, I was racing the cutoffs! No time! I thought about quitting and just going back to Portland with my family to relax but I chose this 100k as my race to check off Oregon in my 50 state quest and I really can’t stomach quitting. A  DNF may be unavoidable one day but I had no real good reason to quit today.   My vision started to get blurry at this point from what I thought was my contacts.
Moss covered everything.

Thankfully on the way back I found a guy willing to run with me. He even waited for me on the downhills.  Thank you, Brian Tomita from LA! Every step was so painful. My quads were completely shot. My mom later pointed out that Brian reminded her of Yoshiko in that he was always smiling. He politely tolerated my painful grunts every time we reached a downhill.  We even laughed about it. I was slower on the downhills than the ups and believe me I was slow on the ups.  I finished with Brian in just around 15 and a half hours. At that point the sun was setting and I could only see blurry shapes and colors. I realized it was actually my eyes and not my contacts when I took them out and still couldn’t see.  I attribute this now to lack of electrolytes and hydration.  I was completely out of water between aid stations as they were over 6 miles to 7 miles apart and it was taking me over 2 hours to get there! I stupidly probably only took 2 S caps the entire time.  Not sure what I was thinking. Even though it was only in the 50s most of the time, that was enough to become severely depleted. I was also not eating. This was basically a slog fest. Lesson learned. Work more on hills (up and down) and pay better attention to race day nutrition and hydration. It must be mentioned that this race though is absolutely breathtaking!! You run along moss covered gorges with giant waterfalls. We started at 4am in darkness so on the way out all you could hear was raging water below you and by the time I returned to the super huge waterfall section my vision was so bad I couldn’t really see much.  Thankfully I have some pictures to prove it. At one point in the early morning, still in the dark, I am running along a ridge hearing water crashing far, far below me and I see a sign as if I needed additional warning “Caution: Cliff section!”. I’ll end with that.
Oregon is beautiful.

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